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Cleveland Indians

Wood gets day off after ordeal

By Sheldon Published: May 21, 2009

 KANSAS CITY, Mo.: Some guys will do anything to get a day off. ¶
   Manager Eric Wedge said he would be reluctant to use Indians closer Kerry Wood on Thursday after the ordeal he put himself through Tuesday and Wednesday nights against the Royals. ¶
   ""Not only what he went through but it's a day game after a night game,'' Wedge said. ""We want to keep him off the disabled list.'' ¶
   Wood was practically a fixture on the DL in the 11 years he was with the Cubs, including one, 1999, that he missed entirely recuperating from elbow surgery. ¶
   Tuesday night, Wood failed to preserve a 5-2 lead in the ninth, giving up four runs, two on homers. Wednesday night, Wood was summoned again, this time to hold a 6-5 advantage. After walking the bases loaded with one out, Wood struck out Mark Teahen and David DeJesus to earn the save.  ¶
   Did the blown save enter Wood's mind Wednesday night? ¶
   ""It can't,'' he said. ""You can't think about it. You have to think about getting ahead, getting strike one.'' ¶
   How long did Wood allow himself to mull over Tuesday night's failure? ¶
   ""Probably till I fell asleep,'' he said. ""The way things have been going for us -- I thought we should have won the series in Tampa, and then Tuesday night was the worst of all.'' ¶
   Wood said the only pitch that worked for him Tuesday night was his fastball. Wednesday night, he had his full arsenal of breaking pitches, as well. ¶
   ""He knew he needed to throw more off-speed pitches,'' catcher Kelly Shoppach said. ""When you throw that hard (97 mph), they're going to sit dead red.'' ¶
   But Shoppach didn't think he would see a repeat of Tuesday night. ¶
   ""I don't think you're going to see four guys in a row square up the ball when someone's throwing 97,'' he said. ""And Kerry knows that.'' ¶
   Throwing more off-speed pitches is what kept Wood on track Wednesday, that and finding his command. ¶
   ""That's what bailed me out,'' he said. ""I had a pretty good cutter and a pretty good breaking pitch.'' ¶
    In both outings combined, Wood threw 52 pitches, and even though Wedge did not want him pitching on Thursday, he did not preclude his closer from pitching three or even four consecutive games. ¶
   Wood inadvertently altered his appearance between Tuesday night and Wednesday night. ¶
   ""I tried trimming my goatee and screwed it up, so I shaved the whole thing off,'' he said. ¶
   Does he plan to grow it back? ¶
   ""We'll see,'' Wood said. ""We're 1-0 without it.'' ¶
   FORTY AND COUNTING -- According to conventional baseball wisdom, teams should begin evaluating their personnel 40 games into the season. ¶
  But with the Indians stuck in a season-long skid, that process began long ago. ¶
  ""Forty games came for us three or four weeks ago,'' manager Eric Wedge said faceitiously. ""It feels like we've played 120.'' ¶
   Actually it's only 42, but that's hardly the point. ¶
   ""At certain points in time, you have to look at your club,'' Wedge said. ""But the way the season has gone, we've been doing that for weeks.'' ¶
   Looking back at spring training, were there indications of the problems that have stymied the team? ¶
   ""Everybody was talking but how great our bullpen was when we came out of camp,'' said Wedge, referring to the part of the club that has caused the most consternation. ""Now we're in the process of sorting things out there. ¶
   ""I think we were all concerned about the starting pitching back then. That's always going to be a concern.'' ¶
    The lineup has been without cleanup hitter Travis Hafner, out with a sore shoulder, for more than three weeks. ¶
   ""We just didn't know about him,'' Wedge said of Hafner, who was returning after undergoing surgery in October. ""Physcially, I thought he was OK, but we didn't know performance-wise. I still think if he's physically OK, he'll be a good hitter for us.'' ¶
   NOTABLE ACHIEVEMENT -- Akron starter Jeanmar Gomez became the first minor-leaguer to throw a perfect game since July 15, 2007, as the Aeros defeated the Trenton Thunder 3-0 Thursday afternoon in Trenton. ¶
   Gomez needed only 87 pitches to retire 27 batters: nine on ground balls, 10 on fly balls and eight on strikes. Since being called up from Kinston, Gomez has compiled a 4-0 record and 0.31 earned-run average. In 29 innings, he has allowed nine hits, one walk and struck out 26. Opposing batters are hitting .097 against him. ¶
   The 21-year-old Venezuelan right-hander posted a 2-2 record and 2.63 ERA in four starts at Kinston. Including his last two starts at Kinston, Gomez has permitted one run in 42 innings. Last year at Kinston, Gomez was 5-9 with a 4.55 ERA. ¶
   Gomez is the first Aeros pitcher to throw a no-hitter. ¶
   ONE MORE DAY? -- Grady Sizemore (elbow soreness) spent a third day as the designated hitter, but he might return to center field tonight. ¶
   ""He feels better,'' the manager said. ""But since it's a day game after a night game, I thought we'd give him one more day.'' ¶
   Sizemore also has been in an extended slump but snapped an 0-for-17 skid with a bloop single in the third inning.  ¶
   LONG WAIT -- Jensen Lewis hasn't pitched in six days, because Wedge has been seeking an appropriate time to put him in a game. ¶
   ""We're going to use him now for length in the middle portion of the game,'' the manager said. ""We want to let him pitch a couple of innings and work through everything. We also still want to get an extended look at (Luis) Vizcaino.'' ¶
   Lewis began the season as co-setup man with Rafael Perez, but he has struggled trying to keep the ball in the park. ¶
   FARM FACTS -- Paolo Espino threw six scoreless innings, giving up two hits, three walks and striking out seven in Kinston's 3-2 win over Potomac. *elip Abner Abreu singled three times and drove in two runs, as Lake County beat Greensboro 5-1. ¶

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